Jay Papasan [Pap-uh-zan] is a bestselling author that serves as the vice president of learning for Keller Williams Realty International, the world’s largest real estate company.
He was born and raised in Memphis, TN.
After attending the University of Memphis he spent several years working abroad in Paris before attending New York University’s graduate writing program. Upon graduating he found work at HarperCollins Publishers, where he helped piece together such bestselling books as Body-for-Life by Bill Phillips and Go for the Goal by Mia Hamm.
After moving to Austin, Jay joined Keller Williams Realty International, and in 2003 he co-authored The Millionaire Real Estate Agent, a million-copy bestseller, alongside Gary Keller and Dave Jenks.
His most recent work with Gary Keller on The ONE Thing has sold over 2 million copies worldwide and garnered more than 500 appearances on national bestseller lists, including #1 on The Wall Street Journal’s hardcover business list and has been translated into 39 different languages.
Jill Heineck: [00:00:12] Welcome everyone to this very special edition of Customer Experience Radio. I’m your host, Jill Heineck. And I’m a business owner, real estate adviser, and customer experience enthusiast. Some of you may not know that I helped start the southeast region of Keller Williams Realty International back in 1999. It’s the world’s largest real estate company, by the way. It has been a wild ride ever since, which is why I’m super excited about our guests today.
Jill Heineck: [00:00:38] Jay Papasan is a best selling author that serves as the vice-president of Learning for Keller Williams Realty, as well as vice-president of Keller Inc., and is co-owner alongside his wife, Wendy, of Papasan Properties with Keller Williams Realty in Austin, Texas. In 2003, Jay co-authored The Millionaire Real Estate Agent, a million copy bestseller. And for some of us, a business Bible whether you’re with Keller Williams or not. He wrote this alongside the great Dave Jenks, who was once my coach back in the day, and Gary Keller, co-founder and current CEO of Keller Williams Realty International.
Jay Papasan: [00:01:11] Jay’s most recent work with Gary on The One Thing has sold over two million copies worldwide and garnered more than 500 appearances on national bestseller lists. The premise of the book is to give the reader tools on how to become laser focused on The One Thing that will propel your business, marriage, life, family, et cetera, forward. Perfect for today’s discussion. Welcome, Jay.
Jay Papasan: [00:01:33] Thank you, Jill. I’m really happy to be here.
Jill Heineck: [00:01:37] I’m so excited to talk to you. So one of the biggest attractions for me when I came to work with Keller Williams was that Gary’s commitment, even early on then, was to encourage agents to build their brand under the Keller WIlliams umbrella and really deemed us as agent partners. And so, for this discussion today around customer experience, we’re talking about really the internal customer from this perspective. And I kind of wanted to get an idea of if you could give us a little bit more about the leadership journey and what the discussions were around this concept.
Jay Papasan: [00:02:12] From Keller Williams Realty, we think of the agent as our customer and not the buyer or seller. Is that what you’re referring to?
Jill Heineck: [00:02:15] Right. Exactly.
Jay Papasan: [00:02:17] Absolutely. And what’s weird is our actual legal customer is the franchisee. So, there’s a little wormhole of land renting customers here. But the reality is, we’re a franchise company. So, the broker, the franchisor is our customer. But Gary understood pretty early on that success on a local level was about the reputation and quality of the local agent and the business they brought. So, he made all of his success measures if we become this the company of choice for the best agents, then everything else will follow. The franchisees will attract the best agents. They’ll have the most buyers and sellers.
Jay Papasan: [00:02:54] So, it was very much a one thing principle before The One Thing was around. But the first domino is how do we attract, how do we get in business with the highest quality, the most successful agents, and just the most of them. Because a lot of times the quality comes from the quantity as well. So, that’s where that philosophy comes from in everything. I mean, we prize people who’ve been in the real estate business. My wife runs one of the top real estate teams in the country. You know, we want people with direct experience, with the agent experience so that we’re always creating the best tools for them. It’s a deeply embedded philosophy here.
Jill Heineck: [00:03:29] That’s what has been, you know, really an eye opener for me as I talk to agents from other companies, whereas, there might be some things that are going on internally that a lot of things that can happen that fall on deaf ears. And what I’m finding is that we have had such a phenomenal – even in the last five years, the biggest changes have been the agents have spoken and leadership has responded. And so, when I talk about the customer experience, I’m talking about my experience as an agent within Keller Williams and how that’s enabling me to bring the best experience possible to my end user, the buyer and the seller.
Jill Heineck: [00:04:04] So, I’d love for you to touch a little bit more on how internally you all are working on trying to keep the franchisors, giving them the best tools they can to provide the rest of us the tools that we need for the end. You know, is there anything fine or is there are one thing that you like to share with us about what’s happening behind the scenes?
Jay Papasan: [00:04:24] So there’s a lot happening behind the scenes. I think when I first really got to know Gary – this move me back in summer of 2002 – I had worked in the company for a couple of years. I bumped into him in the bathroom and I broached the topic that “I hear you’re writing a book,” because I’d come from publishing, and that sparked a whole conversation. And the thing I remember is that day was the day he dedicated it. And back in the early 2000s, at least two days a month, he would spend all day just talking to our top agents. So, he would carve out a huge amount of time to have one- on-one conversations with our top performers.
Jay Papasan: [00:05:02] And, you know, you hang around with Gary and he’s like, “Jill, what are the big challenges that you’re facing? What’s working well for you?” Lots and lots of curiosity. So, he’s always leaned in to what are they experiencing? What do they need? So, the closer you get to the field, the people who are doing a 100 – I mean, back then 100 transactions was a lot. We had about five agents who are doing over a thousand transactions now. Right? So, you talk to those people, they have a deep sense of what’s needed. And so, it started with, I would call it entrepreneurial conversations. That was just Gary being Gary, a great entrepreneur.
Jay Papasan: [00:05:38] Now, we’ve ensconce, we call them labs. But we actually have a whole division of our company – a lot of other companies would call it focus groups. But we actually designed all of our products, whether they be education or technology, we bring the best of the best in and we say, what is it you’re looking for? And I’ve been in these rooms and they’ll literally hand out, like, 11 by 17 paper with a blank screen of computers on it or blank screens of mobile phones on it and saying, “Let’s draw the experience.” So if you opened up your phone and you were trying to host an open house on your phone, what would that look like?
Jay Papasan: [00:06:14] And granted, I mean, there’s a huge gap between what the average person thinks technology should be and the technologist. But having the technologist in the room with top performers has been a game changer for us. And it’s also allowed us to set, I think, better and better expectations with our customers because we understand what their pain point is. We can communicate it back to them clearly. We’ve heard from them what we think the solution is. And we use our expertise to translate that to actually a best practice.
Jay Papasan: [00:06:43] So, from direct conversations with your customers, now, we have very formal ones. We call them labs. I think that that is the test kitchen. The big secret behind a lot of our success is our willingness to take longer to ask the question, what do we need? And then, go all in on those solutions and really be dedicated. Our current technology platform – I mean, we’re just coming into the light. In my mind, we’re five years into this journey. I mean, that takes a huge commitment when you’re already number one to blow up your business and say let’s recreate it from the ground up. But that’s Gary Keller. That’s who we work for.
Jill Heineck: [00:07:20] And I am a beneficiary of that. And I really appreciate where that has come from. And I know that no matter what, nothing’s perfect. But we certainly have come light years from where we were, like you said, five years ago or even five years before that. But I think I’m seeing a lot of – we’re talking a lot about pivoting during this this pandemic time. We’re talking a lot about how can we continue to serve and still have these opportunities for agents to grow, even though we’re still in a learning phase, right, with labs? It’s just going to continue to evolve.
Jay Papasan: [00:07:57] I think it’s a discipline for the business. I don’t think it’s a phase. I think, I see it as an evolution to Gary. I mean, he started that practice in the early 90s of spending a few days a month with his top people and then masterminding four times a year. We’ve just taken that process and made it a business practice and ask how do we get more of our top people in the building who are designing products and courses really in tune with what’s happening in the field so that we can keep our products really, really relevant.
Jay Papasan: [00:08:27] And here’s the trick, like you said, it’s not perfect. The joke in the building is like, “Jill, if you don’t like it, you and your peers helped design it. So, how do we fix it?” And it’s part of our culture, right? It’s a we culture, not an I and they. And we’re going to do it together. And we’re going to share the blame when it doesn’t work. And we’re going to be accountable when it doesn’t work. And we’re going to fix it together.
Jay Papasan: [00:08:50] And that’s just been a fairly unique hallmark of our culture, this willingness of people that are paying to be in business with us, to roll up their sleeves and say, “I want to have a voice in this process. I want to have agency so that I can help make this experience even better for me and my customers.” It’s fairly unusual, I think, in business.
Jill Heineck: [00:09:11] I agree. And so, I’d love to dive in a little bit deeper regarding what you mentioned about franchisors ,and, you know, when someone is looking to Keller Williams as a possible option. I mean, is there one or two or top three things that you would have that person really bear in mind when they’re approaching Keller Williams about becoming a franchisor?
Jay Papasan: [00:09:37] I think it’s not for everyone. I think that it used to be we’ve never had a franchise sales department, I think early on, when Gary was selling – and this is the early ’90s when he was selling – we got in business with the wrong people. So, now it’s much more of a selection process. So, I think come from curiosity, unlike a lot of franchises, I don’t consider it a passive investment. It is, I think, a very complex business instrument our franchise. We run a big model. Our average number of agents in one of our market centers is around 170. The closest competitor is going to be about 60. So, we run a very much kind of like a Walmart, but with a lot of the perks you would think from the higher end stores.
Jay Papasan: [00:10:22] We have good margins. I think, 95 percent of our franchises are profitable in an annual basis. It goes up and down plus or minus two percent, but it’s extremely high percentage. But I don’t think it’s not something you just buy and let your third cousin run for you. You want to be actively engaged if you want to get the most out of it. And I think you really want to look hard at our culture. Is this the culture I want to be a part of? I think that’s the thing that most people who love our company love the most about it.
Jay Papasan: [00:10:52] But I also admit it’s not for everyone. We’re a team. We’re interdependent on each other versus being independent. Even though as independent franchise owners, they have a lot of independence but they choose to give some of that up. So I don’t know. It’s a quirky place. I think it’s a fabulous business to own.
Jay Papasan: [00:11:10] I own part of the franchise in my hometown of Memphis. And it’s got a fabulous rate of return and it’s gotten a lot of my family involved. My sister’s now an assistant team leader in that office, which makes me so happy to see my big sister getting into leadership in the company I’m so fond of. But it is a special place and we’re growing worldwide. I don’t know, we’re in 40 countries now. That culture has really attracted a lot of people. And I think that’s why, in terms of the number of agents who want to be in business with us, we’ve been number one for a while. And I think the culture is number one.
Jay Papasan: [00:11:44] So, it’s not a passive investment. It’s not for everyone. Just because you can write a check doesn’t mean you get one. And you should definitely check out the culture and say, “Is this something I want to be a part of?” Most people fall in love pretty quickly, then you’ll know, like, this is worth pursuing.
Jill Heineck: [00:12:00] Right. And I noticed that early on in the late ’90s that, you know, there were a lot of people throwing checks around and a lot of people got them thrown back right at them. So, it was really interesting to top players, which is not even – it wasn’t even a conversation. So, I find that to be very attractive because the selection process does make a huge difference and that does impact the culture, right?
Jay Papasan: [00:12:24] Absolutely. Well, you know that. You helped run one of the regions, right? I mean, who you’re in business with matters. That is one of our really big cultural values that we will get out of business with high performers that don’t match our culture.
Jill Heineck: [00:12:38] Right. And we’ve seen that happen on the local level here. What would you say the definition of the the customer or agent experiences for Keller Williams when we’re talking about lab [inaudible].
Jay Papasan: [00:12:51] Oh, even though you sent me that question in advance and I struggled with it. And it’s because it’s always evolving. I think that we have a philosophy that every great business has three essential components. You have a value proposition. You have a service plan to deliver on your value proposition. So, it’s not just a false promise. So, here’s what we do for you that’s special. Here’s how we do it consistently. And then, you know this, we believe in the database. The power of the database that we’re going to run a relationship business and stay in touch.
Jill Heineck: [00:13:23] So, I’ve seen our value proposition to the agents change. When I first joined the company, we were a profit sharing company. Very quickly thereafter, when we launched MAPS Coaching, which is now the largest coaching company in the industry even though they can only coach KW people. We, for many years, said that we were a coaching and training company. And on that, I mean, the profit share – let’s just toss it. We’ve given out $1.4 billion historically in terms of profit share. So that’s no false promise. We made as of last month –
Jill Heineck: [00:13:56] I can attest to that.
Jay Papasan: [00:13:56] As of last month, we’ve made 90 millionaires just from that one program. And that’s the direct benefits. We have no idea if they reinvested that money for more.
Jay Papasan: [00:14:07] As a training and coaching company, we were named number one by Training Magazine so many times. We’re now in the Training Magazine Hall of Fame. So, it was kind of like when they created the children’s hardcover book list in The New York Times because they were so tired of seeing Harry Potter taking all the spots in the fiction. So they just created a whole new list. And today we’re a technology company and it evolves.
Jay Papasan: [00:14:31] And I think if you’re going to stay relevant, it’s a particularly dangerous thing when you become number one. You think that how we got here is how we stay here. It’s very disruptive too. If you’re constantly blowing up your value proposition, but you have to ask, what is the next generation need? What is the next – here’s the really morose question, but it’s a great business question for everyone listening. What does the company that puts us out of business look like? And how do I become that tomorrow? And Gary is always asking, like, who is the biggest threat to us and how do we just become that instead of let them attack us? And we would do that within reason. We wouldn’t become something that didn’t match our values.
Jay Papasan: [00:15:17] We asked that question about five years ago. And everyone was like, “Well, look at Zillow, look at Trulia, look at Redfin, or whatever.” It’s going to be a tech company most likely in ten years that’s dominant. So like, “Great. Let’s go become one.” So, I think when you ask what is the definition of the customer experience, you have to ask that question every year. That would be my answer. I wish I could give you, “And here’s the formula.” But the formula is always be adapting so that you’re always relevant to your customers.
Jill Heineck: [00:15:48] And again, it goes back to what you’re saying, you know, what is your value prop, how are you delivering the value prop, and then how are you delivering it, like, in 2020, in 2021, in 2022? So it will evolve and change it. But as long as you are stating this and being transparent with the customer, I think that that’s where these top producing agents and franchises are doing well. And how often – I mean, do you really see a market center go away because they just lost it? They lost the culture. They’ve lost kind of momentum. I mean, how often does that really happen?
Jay Papasan: [00:16:26] You know, we have about – I don’t know – 850 franchise offices. We call them market centers, if someone’s listening and doesn’t know what that means. Maybe one a year. I mean, it’s at the very tail end and that almost always comes from – always rises and falls with leadership. That there was some massive mistake with leadership. The culture went awry and that created a situation.
Jay Papasan: [00:16:51] And a lot of times what we do is either those offices do sometimes close. Or we’ll just merge them in, say, “Look, why don’t you take a smaller portion of a better run office so you all merge.” And a lot of times what we see is the people who fled, maybe, the bad atmosphere, will then coalesce around the new opportunity and we can quickly right that situation.
Jill Heineck: [00:17:14] Right. Which I think, you know, fantastic. It’s not like just somebody just loses. They can at least, potentially, have another option.
Jay Papasan: [00:17:21] Yeah. It doesn’t always happen that way, right? But I do think that one of the people who is looking to get in business with us hired an attorney to look into our litigious backgrounds. And for a company our size – the report is out there on the web somewhere. He ended up publishing it. Like, it’s some of the least litigious places ever. And we’ve had our fair share. You know, we’ve gone through a couple of CEOs in the last five years. We’ve had our turmoil. We’ve had our moments. But we generally get it right in the end.
Jay Papasan: [00:17:50] And I think one of the values of we don’t want to have to go to court. We don’t want to have our corporate attorneys enforce these things. Find a win- win. Win-win is the first thing in our value system. Win-win or no deal. Every win is not equal. It’s not like you get 50 and I get 50. It might be you get 25 and I get 75, but you didn’t get zero. So I think that they’re always looking for how can we make this a win. Because I got to tell you, over the long run, just avoiding the litigation makes being a little bit generous in all those situations, even for people who may not completely deserve it is absolutely a great best practice.
Jill Heineck: [00:18:31] Absolutely. So pick an internal customer, what is the one thing that you would do to improve the internal customer experience at the moment?
Jay Papasan: [00:18:41] You said the magic words, the one thing. Our book is The One Thing. And every training that we’ve ever created around this, everything I’ve learned, this goes all the way back to my parents, if you want to have an amazing customer experience, everything, rides and falls, and how you set expectations. If we set expectations properly, the customer experience will go well.
Jay Papasan: [00:19:03] And it’s so funny, my wife, you know, they do a couple of hundred transactions a year. And I’m married to a realtor, so we’re always kind of on, right? She’ll get a call. We’re driving around. Like, in corona, one of the things that we do sometimes is we need to take the dog for a long walk in the afternoons or sometimes we’ll go, “We never drive our cars anymore.” You just want to drive around the neighborhood and we’ll get a call. And it’s so funny.
Jay Papasan: [00:19:30] Almost all of the challenges we have with consumers can be traced back to a poor setting of expectations. Even when things go wrong, “Hey, Jill. The reason I’m calling you today is we got bad news from the appraiser and here’s what we’re going to do to handle it.” But when we don’t communicate exactly what’s happening and what will happen and the way that our customers can hear it and actually internalize it, we’re always going to be – though we deliver, we’ll be faced with maybe a poor customer experience. So to me, it’s all about how do we set expectations? How can we do it better in the future?
Jill Heineck: [00:20:05] That’s right. And I found that each time that I don’t set the expectation with the client or if I deviate from what I normally do, like having both decision makers at the initial appointment or from the initial call, any time there’s deviation there, almost always we’ll have a hiccup or ten. And then, you’re backpedaling and trying to fix it. So, that I appreciate so much and I agree 100 percent.
Jill Heineck: [00:20:30] So, now when we’re talking about, you know, you’re on the – there’s the technology team, there is the learning team, there’s the ops team. So how are you coaching your teams internally to really deliver on the customer experience, to whomever we’re discussing whether it’s the franchisee, or the agent, et cetera?
Jay Papasan: [00:20:52] So, you know, our president is Josh Team. He comes from a software background. And he wants things to be predictable. He wants things to be measurable. I mean, he’s like a chess champion kind of smart guy. So he can do a lot of the stuff in his head. His intuition is very smart. But he really looks to data. So one of the things, without it also being like this chore, what we try to do is be really clear going into a new initiative is, what’s going to be our success measure. And I think with a lot of entrepreneurs, we know a good idea when we hear it. And because we’re entrepreneurs, we’re good at pivoting quickly and moving to it. And I think Keller Williams is incredibly agile.
Jay Papasan: [00:21:35] In the last couple of years, though, under Josh’s leadership – we have an executive leadership team that I get to be a part of – we work together. And say, “Look, we have some corporate initiatives that we know our top four or five. Does this new thing actually serve those or are we just doing something because it’s new? So, I think a little bit of it’s not can we do it. It’s should we do it. And if we do it, how will we know we’re successful? And asking that question up front forces us to build in some sort of tracking mechanism.
Jay Papasan: [00:22:08] You know, it might be – like, I know a lot of agents, you know, who do, like, a net promoter score. I mean, anything super simple. On a scale of one to ten, how likely are you to refer me to one of your friends? It’s just one question, but it gives them kind of a canary in the coal mine so they know when things are going off the rails. And they also know when they can sit back and go, “You know, this is good. And I can look at my key metric. That’s my leading indicator of success that’s working.” So, we try to do that as much as we can without it becoming burdensome.
Jay Papasan: [00:22:37] Because I’ll also say, if you have everybody on your team, you know, constantly checking things off on a Google spreadsheet, that becomes a chore that takes some of the joy out of it. So, if we can track it automatically, that’s the beauty of our tech platform. More and more of this is getting automated, but we still rely on surveys. So, I think that, one, should we be doing this? Is it truly something that we need to be getting into? And if so, what is the higher goal that it serves and how will we know we’re successful?
Jay Papasan: [00:23:05] I think if you just ask a couple of questions before you die, then that helps everybody on the team. One, they know what we’re doing, why we’re doing it, and how they can be successful. If we know that the measure exists then how do we make that measure go up? That’s how Southwest Airlines, right? So much of their model came from the low cost airlines. They were very clear that one of their goals was to be the low cost airlines because they wanted people to be able to travel.
Jay Papasan: [00:23:33] And that’s why we had the cattle calls, that’s why they only serve snacks, that’s why, I mean, frankly, a lot of their airline flight attendants are practically comedians. Because they’re not going to wine and dine you, they’re just going to have to make it fun. And so, I think when everybody knows what we’re doing and why we’re doing it, it allows some innovation to bubble up to make those things happen faster, too.
Jill Heineck: [00:23:59] Absolutely. I think that during this time, this crazy time we’re in, have you seen a change in attitude in your teams regarding delivering? Or are you able to continue to pump them up from Zoom and whatever else we’re using to keep everybody engaged?
Jay Papasan: [00:24:19] Well, I’m an introvert. A lot of people don’t know that. But I am a writer, fundamentally. I like to create things. So, I like to live in my cave. I’m here in the office. I’m one of, like, two people on this whole floor and I’m happy. I close my door. I’m very effective. So pumping people up is not necessarily my style. I want to communicate that it’s a mission. Like, you know, a lot of my staff, I’ve got our video team. I’ve got our publishing team. And our, you know, instructional design team, which is the course writing. They’re crafts people. And what they want and value is to know that they made great work and they had an impact.
Jay Papasan: [00:24:58] So, for me, it’s no harder or easier through this medium of Slack and Zooms. Just remind them that, like, this is a mission moment. Like, when we went into this, I kind of gathered the troops and said, “Learning is what is going to get people through this. They’re going to have to adapt their businesses or they’re going to go out of business.” Like, it’s really life or death for a lot of small businesses right now. This is our moment. So, as hard as it is for us with our kids at home, we’re afraid for our parents and our grandparents, we’re dealing with the same things. But we get a paycheck every 15 days. They are relying on a sales commission that is not guaranteed. So we have a duty. We have a mission.
Jay Papasan: [00:25:41] And I saw a lot of people rally around the mission because we have a job to do. And now is the time that we get to write the story. My coach, Abe Shreve – I don’t know if you know him – but you had Dave Jenks as your coach, so you know what a great coach does for you. A lot of times they just ask great questions. They don’t even give you the answers.
Jay Papasan: [00:26:00] But probably two weeks into this, we were curating about 40 live courses a week because we wanted to offer it to the industry. We started up a Facebook Group that grew from zero to 77,000, like, in a-month-and-a-half. It became the second largest Facebook Group in our industry, like, overnight. And we were just sharing free education. He said to me, “What is the story you want to tell about this time when it’s done?” He goes, “Right now is the time you get to author that, so be very clear. Are you going to talk about how you got in great shape? How you cleared out all of your Netflix series that you wanted to watch?” There are a lot of people that are writing this out on the couch, and that’s okay. That might be exactly what they need to do. But he asked me, “What’s the story that you want to write?” And I asked that of my team and we said, “We want to make a difference.”
Jay Papasan: [00:26:57] So, I think that there’s a lot of challenges to working remotely. I think that, ironically, people are far more productive, but they’re also teetering on burnout much faster. Because the kind of work – like, there’s no transition time. You drop one screen, you open another. There’s no transition between your home’s workspace and your workspace. So, people are kind of at work all the time if they’re not careful. So, there’s really good things in productivity. There’s very bad things, like how do we on board new people? How do we teach them culture? There’s all these challenges.
Jay Papasan: [00:27:32] But the net is we can still do our job and we have a mission. It’s not just a job. We have a mission to fulfill. That’s what we’ve been rallying around. And I’ve seen great realtors do it, too. I mean, people have never been more aware of their homes than they are right now. They’re trapped in it, right? Wow. I never thought I would need two home offices, but now maybe I need a bigger space.
Jill Heineck: [00:27:55] That’s exactly what’s happening. And I will tell you that, again, I’m a beneficiary of the amazing training that started right when we were coming in to coronavirus. And every single morning I’m listening to you, and Gary, and these amazing agents who are sharing what they’re doing during this time. And I think that it’s made a big impact on how I’m pivoting for 2021. So, kind of 2020 is still here. So, don’t get me wrong. We’re still working here. But for 2021, we’re going to be in a prime position.
Jill Heineck: [00:28:32] So thank you because I know you guys have been working really hard behind the scenes. And as an agent customer, I appreciate that so much. And I know my office will talk once a week on what KWRI is doing for us. And who is benefiting from it and who can share what they learned. Maybe I didn’t get on all the calls they did. So kudos to you and your team. You’re doing a fantastic job.
Jay Papasan: [00:28:56] Well, kudos to you and your leadership, too. I think that we look at the market and I think we’re down overall about 30 percent. But when I talked to our top people, a lot of them are at least matching last year’s numbers or better. And when you think about a 30 percent drop in the market and you’re still doing as good as you did last year, that’s a big increase.
Jay Papasan: [00:29:13] And what we talked about – we wrote in a book called SHIFT about this – the time to grab market share is in a down market. This is the opportunity. And we usually just admonish people. It’s like it’s an equal opportunity sport, but it has unequal rewards. So, go get your unfair share of the market right. Get your unfair share. And when the last recession happened, we went into it number four and came out of it number one. So, we’ve lived this multiple times.
Jay Papasan: [00:29:41] So, I just think that if you have the right leadership and we can focus on the opportunity – like, I love what you said 2021 – the work that you’re doing in our industry, the work that you do today at best is laying a platform for income 90 days down the road, right? Sixty to 90 days. But the reality is that, when you work for tomorrow’s dollars instead of today’s dollars, you know, we talk about internet leads, only two to five percent of those convert. Only two to five percent of those convert in the first 12 months. But over a five year period, virtually 100 – I mean, people move every seven years, 80 percent of those will.
Jay Papasan: [00:30:18] If you’re playing the long hay and laying a foundation, that is the key. And that was the thing I asked Gary. I was with him, believe it or not, in the 2000s. He started this company in the early ’80s. And I was with him when he took his first million dollars out of the business. And I said, “Are you kidding me?” Because I know franchisees that have taken a billion dollars in a year out of their business. And he’s like, “Nope.” And he goes, “I was intent on laying a bigger and bigger foundation. And every time I thought I could just take the money and do something with it, I realized I could invest in another person. I can invest in another something. And that would lay just a bigger foundation for the future.”
Jay Papasan: [00:30:56] And that platform from ’96 to, I think, 2006, our company grew by 40 percent on average year over year. Like, it laid a foundation for pretty unparalleled growth. So my admonition is to do like Jill, if you’re laying a foundation for your 2021, that is our opportunity. Can we protect the best talent in our business? Can we wrap our arms around the best, most loyal customers? And know that this year is – the goals that we set in January, just chuck those out the window. We may be laying a foundation for something really great next year.
Jill Heineck: [00:31:28] I absolutely agree with that. I’ll be interested to hear what has been a recent surprise and delight story that you’ve experienced, either with a company or with a service person, anything off the top of your head.
Jay Papasan: [00:31:42] Yeah. I thought about this. Like, I always go back if you’ve ever read – there’s a book by Derek Sivers called Anything You Want. It’s a real short book. He started a company in, I think, 1999 called CD Baby. And the thing that made him famous is he’s running this little shop where he’s just got a couple of workers and they’re packaging up CDs for artists and putting them in the mail. He wrote a really exquisite thank you letter when someone made a purchase. It’s like, “Hey, you know, our team is carrying a picture of you around the office. And like, it was really funny and it was really cute.” He took what was a – you know, here’s your order number and tracking to something that was actually really fun. Laugh like wow. Laugh out loud experience. And I loved it when I find moments that should be mundane. But a great customer service advocate has said, “Can we just make this fun?”
Jay Papasan: [00:32:34] So we shop at the local co-op. So this is all set up. We have a cooperative called the Wheatsfield Co-op. It’s a really old grocery store in Austin that used to be run by hippies. It’s run just a little bit better now. But we go in for the organic food and stuff. And Wendy and I go shopping. And, you know, those little dots they put on the floor just so that you know that you’re six feet apart. I look down at the dot, right? You don’t even read it anymore. You know what it is. And it said, “Please stay six feet apart.” Approximately the width of majungasaurus or twelve breakfast tacos. And it just cracks me up. I was like, they did that little extra thing. They put a picture of a dinosaur on there and they reminded us – because Austin’s a breakfast taco town. That’s part of our image. So they took something ordinary. No one would spend any time and they gave you just a little bit of delight. So I love those moments.
Jay Papasan: [00:33:28] I love it when I hear that our realtors do that. And they find ways to make a closing, which is a big moment. Right? But what about the first time you meet someone, can you make that a special moment? That first email you get, how do we make those kind of throwaway moments special? Because no one else is focused on it. No one else put that effort into that dot. And that’s what made that experience stand out and be worthy of talking about. If you only focus on the milestones that everybody else does, you’re competing with them. So, you know, in baseball, they say hit them where they ain’t. That’s how you get a baseball hit.
Jay Papasan: [00:34:02] So our top agents often do this with lead generation too. If everybody is stopping with postcards, they amp up their postcards. We saw that in the last shift. Nobody could afford them. So our top agent said, “Hey, I’m not just going to send postcards. I’m going to spend eight by eleven-and-a-half like glossies. I’m going to stand out.” So look for ways that not just that you can provide an interesting service, but provide an interesting service that’s worthy of conversation.
Jill Heineck: [00:34:31] I love it. I love it. I mean, I think that’s where we close out our conversation because I don’t even know how you could top that, honestly.
Jay Papasan: [00:34:41] Okay. It’s the breakfast tacos, right? It’s the breakfast tacos.
Jill Heineck: [00:34:43] Well, first of all, I’m starving now. But that is, I think, an excellent piece of advice for our listeners. Jay, you’ve been absolutely incredible. I really appreciate your time and your leadership. And, you know, all the sharing that you have done on your podcast is great. So I’m a big Jay fan. I appreciate it.
Jill Heineck: [00:35:07] And I want to thank everyone out there for listening. I’m proud to share with you these stories. Prioritize the customer experience as a legit business strategy. Reminding us that no matter what business you are in, whether it be real estate, consulting, marketing, writing, the customer experience should always be the heart of the business.
About Your Host
Jill Heineck is a leading authority on corporate relocations, and is highly sought after for her real estate industry acumen and business insights. As a published author, frequent panelist and keynote speaker, Jill shares her experience and perceptions with people from around the globe.
Jill is a founding partner of Keller Williams Southeast, established in 1999, and the founder and managing partner of Heineck & Co. Her real estate practice specializes in corporate relocations, individual relocations, luxury residential, and commercial properties. Jill’s analytical approach to problem-solving, along with her expert negotiation skills and sophisticated marketing, deliver superior results to her clients. Her winning strategies and tenacious client advocacy have earned her a reputation for excellence among Atlanta’s top producers.
While Jill has received many accolades throughout her career, she is most gratified by the personal testimonials and referrals she receives from her clients. Jill’s unwavering commitment to the customer experience, and her focus on the unique needs of each client, serve as the foundation of her success.
Follow Jill Heineck on LinkedIn.